a brief history on forensic psychology

A Brief History on Forensic Psychology

A Snapshot Of Forensic Psychology’s History

Over the last decade, forensic psychology has become more popular in crime cases and life in general. By merging psychology with the legal system, we get a scope inside the minds of others and what causes them to act in certain ways. For centuries, this has been one of the broadest fields of study. Psychologists can be found in environments such as prisons, juvenile detention facilities, elementary schools. There are also licensed professionals who also have practices for general psych needs and services. A brief history on forensic psychology will highlight some of the field’s turning points and influences.

The Early Studies Of Psychology

In the late 1800s, Wilhelm Wundt established his first laboratory in Germany. His early work created a foundation for future psychologists to carry the studies forward. James Cattell was one of the successors to Wundt. While a professor at the University of Columbia, he challenged his classes mentally through lectures and psychological evaluations; determining that psychological evaluations could be complex in the courtroom. This theory would be taken a step further by Alfred Binet. By replicating previous studies on the subject, Binet used intelligence testing to find correlations between psychology and criminal law. This included testing the witness’s recollection of events and information. The psychologist determined that emotions can influence the accuracy of a witness’s testimony. These results motivated the psychologist to create the first applied psychology journal.

a brief history on forensic psychologyPsychology In Criminal Trials

During 1896, Albert Notzing gave a court testimony during a murder trial discussed suggestibility. The psychologist states that psychological evaluation can create bridges to a witness’s testimony. Less than 20 years later, a German psychologist named Hugo Munsterberg wrote a book advocating the use of forensic psychology throughout all legal systems. He believed that common applications warranted by psychology in everyday life is the basis on which forensic psychology is built.

Increase Of Psychology’s Popularity

After World War II, the field of psychology saw a significant increase in popularity. Inside courtrooms, psychological evaluations became common and psychologists were frequent expert witnesses. The turning point for the field came during 1954. Brown v. the Board of Education saw numerous psychologists testifying; proving to be credible witnesses based on their expertise about the subject. A brief history of forensic psychology illustrates growth in psychology over the past few decades.

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violence risk assessment

Violence Risk Assessments: Why they Work!

So what exactly are Risk Assessments? 

There are so many facets to mental health. Some are definitely genetic, and others are environmental. There are inherited diseases, symptoms, and behaviors. The fact remains is that we care about humanity, and have been developing ways to help those who are violence-prone. When a patient or client appears to be violence-prone there is a beneficial tool that evaluates such individuals. After all, the key is to get to the root of violence-prone individuals and understand the causation. Now, violence risk assessments are utilized by health care providers to establish a common frame of reference. One major focus is to employ psychological evaluations, with a view toward whether the patient might be at risk to be combative, employ assaults, or homicide. There is a scale that evaluates the degree of danger.

Now, it is imperative to note that some of the assessment tools might be difficult to use in an emergency room situation. Often, there is no time to start lengthy psychological evaluations. Another factor is that in an emergency department setting, the medical history of a patient might very well be unavailable!

What is the call to action?  Everything comes together with a plan.

It is with medical wisdom that one understands risk assessments are not a substitute for clinician gestalt. However, they do perform a valuable insight into patient diagnosis and mental health improvement. One must be aware that psychological evaluations and violence risk assessments do take time, and are not intended for imminent risk. The intention of risk assessments is to prevent future happenings and the potential for problems! Remember the old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? It is true with universal precautions, and it is true in wholesome mental health situations. If a potential problem is helped early on, the assessments are worth their weight in gold!

Be aware of what to look for in problematic patients. 

When checking out a patient for behaviors, it is an observational duty to be alert concerning an individual’s indicators such as:


violent threats





destroying property

violence risk assessmentThese traits are informational indicators to help with the evaluations. Remember, when dealing with risk assessments, and the prone to violence, every patient should be treated with respect, care, and professionalism. One never knows the complete picture of what a person has gone through, what is part of their DNA inheritance, and what is environmental. In the end, these assessments do help in a positive way, to diagnose with a view toward good mental health, and happy life. Risk assessments can identify those at risk before a terrible event takes place and help provide treatment.

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Sex offenders evaluations

What You Need to Know about Sex Offender Evaluations

What Are Sex Offender Evaluations?

Sex offender evaluations are specific psychological evaluations and have become increasingly important in recent years. While law enforcement and the general public have become more aware of, and better equipped to combat sexual assault, this gives rise to other problems. There are now a higher number of sex offenders going through the legal system. As such, systems to identify, evaluate, track, incarcerate, or rehabilitate these individuals, are still being developed and refined. Exact policies differ from state to state, however many states now put non-violent or low-risk offenders in mental health facilities to help the rehabilitation process.

Unfortunately, the rate of recidivism is higher among sex offenders than it is for other types of criminals. As such, care needs to be taken when allocating resources to their confinement or rehabilitation. This is where sex offender evaluations come in.

How it works

Trained forensic psychologists use these evaluations to identify and record critical information about each offender. This information contributes to a number of larger databases which various law enforcement and legal agencies use to record or track information, and allocate resources more effectively.

The forensic psychologist’s primary goal during these psychological evaluations is to determine the risk of recidivism, danger to the community, competency, and criminal responsibility. All of this information helps to determine if an individual will be placed on his or her state’s sex offender registry. Any other data from these psychological evaluations will be recorded so that it is available to any number of legal or law enforcement agencies.

Sex offenders evaluations

In legal terms, competency refers to an offender’s ability to stand trial. It is determined by a person’s ability capacity to understand court proceedings and effectively consult with their legal counsel. The specifics to legal competence are dependent on the situation and the severity of the charges.

Criminal responsibility refers to the accused’s mental state at the time of the crime. This information helps determines whether they were in control of their actions and thus legally culpable.

The term recidivism defines a released offender’s chances of being convicted again for the same type of crime. This number is higher for sex offenders, who often have some sort of psychological element that motivates or reinforces their behavior.

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Indiana Mental Health Disability Evaluation

Indiana Mental Health Disability Evaluation – Workers’ Comp

Mental Health Disability Evaluations for Workers’ Comp
People file workers’ comp cases for all kinds of different reasons. And, one of the main things these cases must establish is that the person’s employment somehow led to, contributed to, or even caused the problems they are experiencing. Often, these problems are physical in nature, but they can also be psychological, or a combination of both. In any event, if psychological issues are at play, qualified psychological evaluations should be as well.

The Process of Psychological Evaluations for Indiana Mental Health Disability

In Indiana, psychological evaluations for workers’ comp cases are all handled in basically the same way.

A qualified psychologist, ideally one who is experienced with Indiana workers’ comp cases, will do the following in an effort to determine if the person’s employment led to their situation and, if so, to what degree:

  • Carefully interview the employee
  • Review medical records
  • Review work records
  • Interview co-workers (if applicable)
  • Interview supervisors
  • Perform psychological testing

In addition to a psychological evaluation, a mental health disability evaluation will also be performed. This process is much the same as the psychological evaluation. However, the goal of the mental health disability evaluation is to determine whether the person has mental health issues that prevent them from doing their job.

Indiana Mental Health Disability Evaluation for Workers’ Comp – Expect Resistance

Indiana Mental Health Disability Evaluation - Workers CompWhile it would be nice if every Indiana workers’ comp case went without a hitch and people easily got the benefits to which they were entitled, this isn’t always the case. Unfortunately, most people, even after their mental health disability evaluation and following all of the required steps, will experience some pushback from their employers.

Most employers have insurance companies that will do everything they can to deny your claim and to prevent you from getting it. This might mean examining your Indiana and national criminal history, your credit, and even questioning your mental health and the validity of your mental health disability evaluation.

The key, though, is to stay strong and to not give up. If you have legal help on your side and are seeing a qualified psychologist, there’s a great chance your claim will be approved and that you’ll get the benefits you deserve.

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Indiana Workers’ Compensation Evaluation

Understanding Psychological Evaluations for Workers’ Comp in Indiana

If a workers’ comp issue stems from or causes a mental health issue, you need strong representation from a knowledgeable team in order to receive your proper reward. The Indiana Workers’ Compensation Evaluation is a common component of Indiana workers’ comp cases and you do not have to fear them. They determine the proper category for your claim and the appropriate compensation you deserve for it.

Why Psychological Evaluations?

You have rights if:

  • A work condition or event causes mental distress and psychological disorder.
  • A physical injury at work leads to anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • A mental or psychological disorder leads to inability to function at work, even if that disorder does not originate at work.

Psychology Services and Workers’ Comp

Employees may be alarmed, even offended, when employers and labor reviewers scrutinize their injury claims. Psychological evaluations insure understanding of the extent of the injured employee’s condition and elimination of fraud cases. Psychologists or psychology services specializing in work-based injury can prevent your case from being discredited.

  • They understand how physical injuries correlate to life changes and psychological disordering.
  • They can recognize complex PTSD, brain injury and depression symptoms that prevent functioning at work.
  • They can discern credible symptoms and disabilities from exaggerated ones to substantiate your rights to compensation.

Indiana Workers Compensation Evaluation

The Indiana Workers’ Compensation Evaluation Process

Psychological services help show a disability prevents you from working for short and long terms or that a disability arose from your job. Psychologists provide trusted opinions to validate your symptoms and claims.

They may interview you several times. They may also speak with bosses, supervisors and coworkers. They may recommend physical examinations and further psychiatric evaluation or treatment. Finally, they may work with your workers’ comp attorney to present their findings in your best interests.

Good psychological services in Indiana can help you secure your workers’ comp reward. Contact us for more information, here.

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Child custody evaluation

Child Custody Evaluations Do’s and Don’ts

Child Custody Evaluations

A child custody evaluations can be a daunting experience, but as parents, it’s vital to maintain a level head and act in the best interest of the child. The whole evaluation process can be intimidating, and the notion of an unfavorable custody agreement is outright scary. This can lead parents to act in ways that may actually undermine their efforts and end up with a worse agreement than if they had played by the rules. To help you get the best custody agreement possible, here are some of the most important do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

Custody Evaluations Do’s:

  • Be honest: By being honest and forthright with your evaluator, you’re showing them that you’re dedicated to reaching the best solution for the child. The child’s welfare is what they care about most, so if they see that you genuinely care, they are more likely to make a positive evaluation. When they ask a question, just tell the truth. Even if you think the truth will make you look bad, it will make you look much better than a lie would.
  • Focus on the child’s well-being: Put the child’s happiness and safety above all else. You may have some gripes with the other parent, but the child likely doesn’t feel the exact same way, and the evaluator certainly doesn’t have that bias. When speaking to the evaluator, stay on the subject of the child. It may be tempting to preach your case, but to the court, this isn’t about you, and they owe you no favors.
  • Be prompt with any paperwork and requirements: Now is not the time to procrastinate. If they need a document, get it to them ASAP!
  • Understand that the other parent has a role in the child’s life: The legal system is geared towards giving each parent as much access to their children as they deem possible, so be sure to understand this as you move through the process.

Child custody evaluation

Custody Evaluations Don’ts:

  • Speak poorly of the other parent: While it’s fine to voice your concerns, stay on topic, and mention any problems you may have when appropriate. They don’t want to hear bias.
  • Coach the kids: If you coach the kids to answer a certain way, the evaluator will know, and it will not help your case!
  • Miss appointments: The evaluator is busy, and they have better things to do than wait for you. Nobody likes having their time wasted, and blowing them off at such a critical time will not reflect well on you.
  • Stray from any legal orders or judgments: They want to see that you’re a team player. If you won’t follow the court’s orders, they won’t want to work with you.

No matter how it all turns out, don’t panic if it doesn’t go the way you want it to. This is a trying time, and negativity will only make things worse. You will have a chance to revisit the custody agreement in the future. In the meantime, do what they say. If you show them that you’re willing to follow their orders, it will reflect well on you. At the end of the day, the child is what matters most, and the legal system’s objective is to ensure that the child’s needs are met.

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Child custody evaluations

What to Expect at a Custody Evaluation

Divorce is never easy. In cases where there aren’t children involved, resolution may be a little less painful. However, when there are children involved and one or both parties can’t agree on custody, this is when things can get messy.

Determining who the children should live with is a process, which typically begins with a child custody evaluation. While these types of evaluations are common and nothing to worry about, most people still feel anxious about having to go through them.

To make the process a little less anxiety-inducing, it’s important to understand what’s involved. Read on to learn more about child custody evaluations and how they can affect the final outcome.

What is a Custody Evaluation?

A custody evaluation involves you, your partner and your child all being assessed by a mental health professional. Usually performed by a Virginia psychologist, the evaluation is done with the child’s best interest in mind. It’s done as a means to determine where the child should reside as well as a possible visitation schedule with the other parent.

Why are Custody Evaluations Necessary?

In cases where the parents cannot agree on custody or one parent feels the other is unfit, the court may order a custody evaluation. In or both parents can request an evaluation as well by a Virginia psychologist.

How to Prepare

Understanding how child custody evaluations are performed can help alleviate your fears. Even if you don’t agree with the evaluation, it’s in your best interest to cooperate and answer all questions. You should also create a list of questions you would like to ask the interviewer during your evaluation. Your inquiries should include the following:

  • How do many responses impact my credibility?
  • What is your evaluation findings based on?
  • When will I receive a copy of your evaluation?

If you are the one requesting the evaluation and you reside in Virginia, you should also consult with a Virginia psychologist for guidance.

Child custody evaluations - what to expect

Final Results

After all, parties have been evaluated, the results will then be given the court where a ruling will be made. Alternatively, the findings by a Virginia psychologist may also be used during meditation to help both parties come to a peaceful agreement.

Child custody battles are rarely pleasant. However, with due diligence and respect, it is possible to have a positive outcome, if everyone cooperates. In the end, it’s what’s best for your child, not you or your partner.

To learn more about the services offered at Gale Forensic Psychology, click here.
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